Much of this year's legislative session is focused on addressing the state's opioid crisis.
Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) and Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) sponsored legislation this session that is a critical part of the conversation and will go a long way toward improving treatment options.
The bill, HB2002/SB2099, has passed both chambers and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam. It allows patients to access advancements in treatment through medicated assisted treatment (MATs), which could allow combined behavioral therapies and medication and are critical to addressing the opioid epidemic.
"It is important that our laws are keeping up with medical innovations when it comes to treating addiction," Dickerson said. "In fighting the epidemic, we also must be sure we're treating the patients, and this bill aims to do that.
As part of medical innovation, MATs continue to evolve and develop. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just recently approved a new buprenorphine product that instead of being taken orally is administered by injection as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and support. By being administered through injection by a health care provider, the chance for misuse and abuse is minimized. Before this law was passed, these new medical advancements wouldn't be permitted in Tennessee.
The new law gives health care providers in consultation with their patients more options when making treatment decisions.
"This bill helps increase compliance and decrease relapse rates for patients receiving addiction treatment. At the same time we're decreasing the possibility of diversion," Terry said. "I am proud to have been part of this effort."
Last year, roughly 11.6 million adults misused opioids in the U.S., and opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death among people under the age of 50 in America. In Tennessee, the death rate from opioid overdose was up 19 percent in 2015 from the prior year according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The bill will become law upon enactment.
Bryan Terry, MD serves as Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee, as well as a member of the House Health and Civil Justice Committees. He lives in Murfreesboro and represents House District 48, which includes the eastern half of Rutherford County. Terry can be reached by calling (615) 741-2180 or emailing: Rep.Bryan.Terry@capitol.tn.gov .
Steven Dickerson, MD serves as 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee. He is also a member of the Senate Education, Senate Finance, Ways & Means, and Senate Energy, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committees. Dickerson lives in Nashville and represents Senate District 20, which includes a portion of Davidson County. He can be reached by calling (615) 741-6679 or by email at: Sen.Steven.Dickerson@capitol. tn.gov.